Safeguarding our memories writes Andy Mitchell

I was really heartened to read this week that BBC correspondent Dan Johnson managed to get an interview with his dad before he died, so he could always listen to his voice in the future.

Maybe it’s a strange concept for those not used to recording voices every day, that the ones that mean the most to us, are often the ones lost forever.

On the BBC news website this week, Dan tells the story of how he persuaded his dad to record a sort of Desert Island Discs, memories of his dad’s favourite tunes with a story attached to each one. The chat soon broadened out into a sound history of his dad’s life.

I remember I did this with my dad, and we even used clips of the interview at his funeral!

Tape recording

More recently, I managed to persuade my 90-year-old mum to do the same. We sat down with a brew, and I tried my best not to look like a BBC reporter as I set up the recorder to help her roll back the years.

She took me right back to the 1940s with vivid descriptions of life during the war in Blackpool. We then moved on to happier times when she met my dad in the Spanish Hall at the Winter Gardens in 1955, and so the memories kept flowing.

You may remember me writing about our close friend Gary Burgess a couple of weeks ago. Gary was a master of creating his own archive, and, of course, produced his own obituary programme which went out on ITV.

For those of us lucky to have had a lifetime in broadcasting, there’s no shortage of archive for people to dip into should they want to remember how we moved, talked and interacted with others. We don’t think twice about watching old TV shows or listening to archive radio programmes, where the stars are long gone. They are frozen in time at the age they were when we remembered them.

This is why Dan’s report struck such a chord. We can all live on, not just in memories, but with our voices.

Now with the latest hi tech phones, everyone can record a chat with loved ones, for we are all journalists now.

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